There is a hacker group, called Turkish Crime Family,  who claims access to more than 250 million iCloud accounts. They are now blackmailing Apple and demanding $700,000 –payable in bitcoins. Failure means launching a full blown attack on Apple’s iCloud accounts. While the authenticity of the hacker group is not yet verified, their assertions should be taken seriously. It is entirely the responsibility of Apple to ensure that  iCloud accounts are safe and not accessible to third parties. However, with this kind of news, you should take an extra personal step and secure your Apple accounts. There are various ways you can do this just in case things spiral out of control.

The hacker group calls itself Turkish Crime Family and promise that they will demonstrate their level of access on April 4. On this day,  they plan to lock out users from accessing their iClouds. The media hungry hacker group has threatened that they will also change user passwords — remotely wiping out any type of Apple gadgets linked to iCloud.

According to ZDNet, whom were first contacted by the group, they handed 54 credentials of different iCloud users. All of these credentials turned out to be valid after running a check on their site’s password reset function. However, these hackers claim that they have different credentials of iCloud accounts from all over the world. The hacker group failed to provide a sample of iCloud holders based in the US. To the doubters, including Apple, the user credentials appear to be an aggregate from different sources. They simply had comma separated email addresses and plain text passwords.

Apple on their part is confident that despite the threats, the group is a non-issue. They further add that their iCloud accounts and Apple ID remains impregnable. According to them, the 250 million emails and passwords that Turkish Crime Family claim they possess were from third party groups  penetrated before. Apple assures users that their accounts are safe and are working closely with law enforcement to pin point these hackers.

From these samples, Apple are not sure if they can for sure launch a massive attack on iCloud accounts as they claim. At the end of the day, the most common practice hackers do when they breach a third party company and get hold of personal references is basically trial and error. They will use different username and password combinations from the data set and set aside all combinations that work on different accounts. They will then aggregate this data and use it as a tool for blackmail.

If things break loose, protective steps are simple. The first thing is changing your password. Also, you don’t want to use the same password on your Twitter, email or Facebook accounts. Passwords should be 12-15 characters long and not contain obvious details like your password. Alternatively, and the most secure way, is to include a 2-step authentication into your iCloud. If you do these, you will be safe from Turkish Crime Family and other hackers out there.

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